In the Film Room : Falcons vs. Panthers

football, advanced, film, frozen yogurt

football, film, advancedPeople, I’m obsessed.

Obsessed with that moment when something that was so confusing suddenly becomes so clear. And since visual explanations tend to speak to my brain much more fluently than verbal explanations, these film breakdowns have led to quite a few glory glory hallelujah moments. Suddenly the concepts that I read about and watch religiously come together and make SENSE.

It’s like magic. I can’t wait to share it with you.

So I found an amazing resource: the video section of USA Football’s website. There is a wealth of helpful information to be garnered there – the videos we’ll be breaking down here are just one wonderful component of the website.

Today, we’re going to start with the Falcons vs. Panthers game from Week 4. We get to learn about how several different great plays come together to make one great catch happen. After the video, we’ll review what we’ve learned.


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If you missed a few things the first time around, don’t panic! Here’s the step by step breakdown:

Key Play 1: Garrett Reynolds’ Pull and Pass Block

When the play begins, Garrett Reynolds is lined up as the right guard. In the next split second afterward, he pulls to the other side of the formation and blocks the oncoming defensive end.

Why is this important?

Left unblocked, the defensive end would have had a pretty clean line right to the quarterback, causing either a pass rush or a sack. If rushed, the receivers wouldn’t have had a chance to get down the field and the pass might have been dumped off to a tight end or someone closer. If sacked, the game probably would have been over, since that play set up the game-winning field goal.

Key Play 2: Julio Jones Beating the Jam

On this play, Julio Jones is lined up across from the nickel back. (We know from our many defensive lessons that the nickel back is the fifth defensive back on the field.) The nickel back’s job is to make sure that Julio Jones does not beat him off the line and run down the field. Unfortunately for him…that’s just what happens. Jones jams the nickel back at the line – he throws a little fake so that the DB is confused – and then races up the field.

Jones’ first job: done.

Next, he moves onto confusing the safety. He and the other wide receiver on the left side of the formation, Roddy White, run parallel routes fairly close to each other for about 15 yards so that the safety can’t decide who to defend. Once Jones commits to running the hashes (basically straight up the center of the field) the safety has to cover him or else risk Jones breaking free for a touchdown. He doesn’t want that to happen, so he moves to cover Jones instead of White.

Jones’ second job: done! What a good day for Julio!

Why are these important?

If Jones hadn’t beaten the nickel back on the line, Roddy White probably would have been double covered and probably wouldn’t have been able to make that catch. Ditto: if Jones had run a different route after breaking free. Great decision making.

Key Play 3: Matt Ryan’s Read

Matt Ryan is looking down the field to see what the deep safety is doing. And every time he sees the safety guarding the inside, the quarterback will (or should) attack the outside. Ryan made the right read on the situation and threw the ball in a great position for White to make a play.

Why is this important?

Reading the coverage incorrectly and throwing it anywhere else probably would have been a waste of a play. The whole team worked together to create just what we saw come to life. Executing a different ending wouldn’t have done the play – or the teamwork – justice.

This is why I love film. In the five seconds it takes to watch this play on TV, it just looks like Roddy White made a great catch. But when you look a little closer, you see that so many other players did their jobs so that he could go up and make that catch.

So many moving parts. It’s an amazing machine when it’s well-oiled.

Author: Beka